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Women in Film: From Her POV Week Four

This week’s blog from the From Her Point of View programme features a return to screenwriting and an in-depth exploration of sound, microphones and recording. Catch up with Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Four

Week Four of our endeavour to create two amazing short films and shout about how talented and creative us ladies (and women in general are, of course!) began on Thursday with a brief return to screenwriting to reinforce what we have learned so far in terms of our old familiar friends: Intention and Obstacle and how important these are to developing our ideas and projects.

We were split off into pairs and had to choose a mystery scenario from a selection and then talk in our pairs about how we would explore these on film. A character would have a particular intention and we would have to come up with the tone, obstacle and plot idea, and also have a go at fleshing out the characters a little more in terms of personality.

I paired up with Ellie, producer on team Blood Warriors. Our scenario involved character A wanting to get money from Character B, and we came up with the idea of a crime drama or thriller piece, with Character A maybe in deep debt from a loan shark, who reunites with  an old friend, who is now trying to distance himself from his former criminal life, now settled, maybe married with a child.

We imagined Character A being very charming, smooth talking and manipulative. When Character B refuses to hand over the money, the tension and drama comes from how their relationship has changed, we thought perhaps that character B used to look up to and admire A in their younger days, and would normally have done anything for his respect, but the stakes are now too high and he knows it’s the wrong thing to do, so he has a moral dilemma. A can see this, and so uses it to his advantage.

It was a fun little exercise to get the creative juices flowing. Other scenarios from the group included someone trapped in a room with no clear means of escape beyond a rope and barred window, and car trouble whilst making your way to a destination!

The group then split off into their crews for a pre-production meeting. The major element for both crews was the fact that a rough draft of their script needed to be ready for the following session, as Esther would be returning to work with us more after her Intro to Working with Actors a few weeks back.

For Blood Warriors and Black Cherry, the focus was on fine tuning the ideas and the direction they wanted to take their projects in, but they started thinking about other elements as we’ve had a little more insight: going around I heard talk of ‘we could shoot this scene like this,’ ‘I’d light it like this’, ‘how do we want this look,’ dipping our toes into art department and talking about ideas for locations. It was all very encouraging to hear everyone so enthusiastic about what we have learned so far!

Sound

This leads us on neatly to Friday’s session, where at least as someone who has no experience of what we were going to be learning, I felt thrown in at the deep end! Having said that, this course has thus far taught me to embrace new things and hit the ground running.

Friday’s workshop was devoted to sound, led by composer and sound designer Laura Izzard. Laura’s impressive portfolio of work includes a wealth of commercials and animations, and I was astounded to hear the extent to which women working in sound are a very very rare thing indeed.

When you work in sound, the main tool of your trade is the microphone. These can appear in many different sizes, and used in different ways.

When you record dialogue your best options would be directional, shotgun or boom mics. The longer the mic is, the better it is at getting rid of extraneous noise.

Stereo mics come in three categories:

  • Omnidirectional will give you an equal 360 degree recording of all sound
  • Cardioid is useful for recording in front, but will pick up some sound from the back
  • Hypercardioid used mainly for recording close to.

Whatever kit you use, follow this rule: the camera is king. Always match your sound to your camera and shots, for consistency.

Levels of sound and sound quality
  • In this industry, the level of sound will impact the quality, and you work on the signal to noise ratio. Levels will either PEAK (be too loud) or be too quiet, so it’s important to get the levels right.
  • Sound is in bits, or kilohertz
  • Highest quality is 192k
  • Broadcast standard sound is 48k
  • CD Quality – 44.1k, 16 bit

More bits give you a smoother sound.

Methods to record sound
  • Recorder to mic to camera
  • Recorder directly to camera via cable
  • Recorder with a mic to camera via wireless connection
Timecode
  • Set your audio and camera to the same time, so everything will then be in sync.

 Laura let us all play around with her kit and I joined Blood Warriors to record one of their scenes.

Next time, we delve deeper into working with actors, and learn a little about copyright along the way!

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

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